We have been here now for five days, although still so jet lagged that we have trouble remembering what day it is. The first thing that I want to tell you is that the new espresso/cappuccino maker has already brought me much joy and happiness. The filling of the filter device, the tamping down of the coffee, the sound of the pressurised water forcing its way through the precious brown stuff (the noise alone is enough to wake the dead) and best of all, the frothing of the milk, are all delightful additions to my new life here. Granted, these pleasures have absolutely nothing to do with Hong Kong, but my early days here will always be associated with spluttering liquid - the coffee and the sniffles/coughs we all seem to have had since arrival.
Yesterday, David and I left a tired, grumpy Sadie at home, and we ventured into “Central” to open Hong Kong Bank accounts. Our arrival in the branch was greeted with not only with enthusiasm and a warm welcome, but also free jelly beans. I have never been any other financial institution that uses confectionary as a customer incentive. I’m all for it. I am confident that the staff of the main HSBC branch in Hong Kong were genuinely thrilled to make our acquaintance. They were so enthusiastic about our very presence that I came extremely close to signing up for the platinum/diamond/enriched plutonium account that they were offering me for only 50% of my annual earnings per month. It came with not just a chequebook and debit card, but also FREE INTERNET BANKING! Luckily the jelly bean sugar rush wore off just in the nick of time, and I signed up for the coal dust/manure account which doesn’t do anything much but won’t require me to sell my daughter into slavery just to pay for it. Bank account sorted, we headed out to buy a TV.
I get a bit panicky when I enter electronics retail emporiums. I think Chinese is pretty difficult, but it’s nothing compared to the foreign language of Audiovisual-land. LCD or Plasma, Full HD or HD ready, Supported Broadcast Signal Type, input connectors, built-in DMB TH Tuners, Display Resolution, Picture Frame Transformation output modes, Blu-Ray, DVD, external card slots, optional blow dry accessory....I just want to watch “Come Dine With Me”. Unfortunately, Fortress Electronics didn’t have a “just watch come dine with me” section. This shop is aptly named; it is completely impenetrable. David, being blind, isn’t really much help in assessing TV screen quality, but being a bloke, he couldn’t help but offer his opinion. “Sony”, he said. “Sony” is the best brand. So, we looked in the Sony section. Every single Sony TV was 547% more expensive than the comparable Samsung, LG or any other brand. “Well, you get what you pay for”, stated David knowingly. I said “I think I’[d like to get a little less, thank you”. We ended up with a medium Samsun, a little Samsung and a Blu-Ray/DVD player. The sales assistant assured me that both TVs will show “Come Dine With Me”. David, of course, is sure that they will both cease to function after 2 weeks as they are not Sonys. We’ll see.
Of course, the TVs will be no good without a suitable cable TV package. I looked up the recommended cable provider on the internet, and found that I was able to make an enquiry on line. I found this less daunting than ringing the toll free number and attempting to order cable in Chinglesh. Within 20 minutes (!) of making the enquiry, I received a phone call from Ivan Ching, the cable guy. I told him that I wanted the “come dine with me” channel. He said that they didn’t have that, but he could do me a deal on 865 other channels, 4 of which were even in English! Ivan and I quickly became close pals. He is a Manchester City supporter, and always wanted to visit the UK. He asked how I was liking Hong Kong, and he seemed very happy to hear my positive response. He wanted to know if I had met the queen. I said that she was my next best friend after him, and of course I would send him pictures from the wedding. We chatted about non-cable stuff for so long, that I think we might technically be engaged. Several hours and not a few call backs later, we negotiated a package which does not have any of the Fox channels. I was willing to pay for anything, as long as it didn’t include Fox. I’ll have to meet Ivan, the cable guy’s parents at some point but I’m pretty sure that neither he nor they will mind that I am a 50 year old, divorced mother with a current live-in partner. The cable and broadband connection will be installed on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see if Ivan shows up to do it himself. I think he will find having David answer the door will be quite a shock.